Manitoba is grappling with a hog disease outbreak that’s so severe it’s even showing up in U.S. import statistics.
As of Sept. 10, 74 Manitoba hog production facilities have been discovered positive for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus this year as a widespread outbreak that began in May continues to knock down new barns.
Before May, only two facilities had been hit by PED in 2019, and 2018 had only 18 cases.
The record year for outbreaks in Manitoba was 2017 with 80 cases.
The rate of new breaks has dropped since June, but new ones were still being uncovered in early September.
“It’s slowed down,” said Jenelle Hamblin, manager of swine health for the Manitoba Pork Council.
“We were hoping (in April) that things would stay quiet. We’ve seen a different story.”
Most of the cases, 61, have been in the densely barned southeastern corner of the province, from south of Winnipeg to the forests that begin less than 100 kilometres east of the city. That contains the hog hotbeds of Steinbach, La Broquerie and Landmark.
However, there have also been cases outside the southeast with 10 in the Red River Valley, two in the Whitemouth area of eastern Manitoba and one near Notre Dame des Lourdes in west-central Manitoba.
“We’re not specifically segregated to southeastern Manitoba any more,” said Hamblin.
That has the pork council reminding hog producers and handlers everywhere to double down on biosecurity because PED spreads wildly.
“There are animals moving all the time. We need to be very vigilant,” said Hamblin.
The outbreak will send shockwaves through Manitoba’s hog industry as truckers, packers and others are affected by the lockdowns on many facilities and the sudden dearth of piglets flowing to feeder barns.
Manitoba’s weanling hog industry is a major supplier to hog feeders in the U.S. Midwest, and the outbreak is already showing up in U.S. market reports.
Canadian hog exports to the United States fell 8.4 percent in the month leading to Sept. 4 and year-to-date numbers fell 4.7 percent, according to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s Daily Livestock Report.
“Most likely PED is still contributing to a second month of declines in shipments,” said the Sept. 10 edition.
U.S. weanling imports from Canada are about 120,000 lower than at this time last year with most of the slump occurring since June.